Wolves killed four hound dogs valued at several thousand dollars near Moody Bench earlier this month.
Idaho Fish and Game official Gregg Losinski reported that wolves killed the dogs while they were hunting for black bears. The owner had allowed the dogs to run off in search of the bears.
“These were not dogs in a person’s yard or with an individual on a trail. These were dogs that were let loose to track down a black bear and to tree a black bear,” he said.
Wolves prove notoriously territorial and will kill hunting dogs thinking they’re part of a rival pack, Losinski said.
“Wolves don’t see hound dogs as dogs but as other wolves. In their world, they kill the other pack that’s there. It’s not about emotions. It’s about survival. They’re programmed to do that,” he said.
Fish and Game believes the wolves responsible for killing the dogs are part of a wolf group called the White Owl Pack. There’s not much that Fish and Game officials can do about the attacks other than to warn dog owners that there is a wolf population.
“All we can do is alert people that Idaho is a wild place. When you go out there, things happen. Hopefully you’re in control,” he said. “If you know there’s wolves in the area, we encourage hunters not to release their dogs in the area.”
If a dog owner caught a wolf attacking his pet, the owner is within his rights to shoot the wolf. But you can’t just shoot a wolf unless it is hunting season. The state gives residents the chance to do that by summer’s end. It’s allowed wolf hunting for the past five years.
“Depending on where you’re at, you can harvest five wolves through hunting and five through trapping,” Losinski said.
The wolves’ hide is often highly sought after, he said.
“The pelt of the wolf is in its prime during the winter and is a desirable pelt on people’s walls,” Losinski said.
It’s often difficult to successfully hunt and kill a wolf, but that’s what often motivates sportsmen, he said.
“Hunting is oftentimes not about food but for the sport of it,” he said.
Right now the state is in the middle of black bear hunting season. Wolf hunting starts Aug. 30.
In the meantime, Losinski urged hunters to be cautious.
“Do your homework. If you hear wolves, it is not advisable to release hound dogs in that area,” he said.
Losinski also warned that another wild animal, the grizzly bear, will run after dogs if they don’t kill them first.
“Grizzly bears pursue hound dogs. They chase them back to their owners. Black bears will tree,” he said.
Losinski likens the situation to someone fishing for minnows, knowing perfectly well that there’s a shark nearby.
“It’s about situational awareness. Think about where you’re at and what you should do,” he said. “It’s all part of the sport and knowing what you’re getting into.”